We're constructing more demonstration housing both to show villagers various methods for rebuilding and teach local builders new methods for building better and cheaper. Having already constructed homes with Gabion Bands and Earth Bags, we are now undertaking construction of a ktichen addtiion using bamboo and mud plaster.
As the government has yet to provide any financial assistance to villagers who lost their homes in the earthquakes, we are now building a home that is fast to construct and very cheap to build. A bamboo and mud structure in the form of an addition to our kitchen is being built with the help of both volunteers and local housing builders. While perhaps not quite as long lasting as homes made with Gabion Bands, the bamboo and mud plaster homes can be made cheaply and quickly and will provide a very usable house for 20-30 years. It's earthquake resistant and unlike the traditional stone houses it's also cooler in summer and warmer in winter.
This brings to three the number of demonstration homes using alternative techniques we've now constructed in the village of Mankhu. We will also be building demonstration homes using these techniques in the nearby village of Goganpani as well. There isn't going to be many in the village willing to undertake reconstruction until the government clarifies what assistance, if any, the villagers will receive. When that becomes known, our locals will be prepared to leap into construction using any one of the earthquake resistant models we've now trained them to build.
Here's why your help to build back better is marked as URGENT. The monsoons are ending and people are turning attention from farming to rebuilding homes. The government's reconstruction authority is defunct and now stuck as a pending bill before Parliament and Parliament isn't acting on the bill. That is a harbinger of disaster for those living in the villages of Nepal.
Despite having been pledged over $4 billion for reconstruction, without a functioning reconstruction authority, no one is receiving any financial help. Villagers had hoped for money either in the form of loans grants to rebuild homes. Since the money hasn't come, and may never come, people are starting to rebuild in the exact same manner as before the quakes.
While the Arpil 25, 2015 and subsequent quakes leveled villages and many lives were lost, things could have been much worse. The quakes struck on a Saturday so no children were inside the many schools that collapsed. The quake struck in the middle of the day so farmers weren't in their homes but rather were in their fields. Had the earthquake hit on a school day, or in the middle of the night, the loss of life would have been much greater.
There is a way to build back better that's cheap and requires little or no technical skill. Gabion bands are a proven technology that makes homes resistant to quakes. We recently conducted a workshop and built a demonstration home in the village of Mankhu using gabion bands (see attached PDF for all the details). This method of rebuiliding allows homeowners to reuse all the materials from their quake damanged homes and build in the traditional fashion i.e. stone with mud plaster but adds structural integrity that traditional homes lacked.
Mountain Fund has trained people on the ground in the villages ready to assist any homeowner who wishes to rebuild and incorporate life-saving gabion bands but if we don't act fast, homes will be rebuilt that are not able to withstand earthquakes and there will be more quakes in Nepal, it's not an "if" its a "when."
For just $500 a home we can ensure that villagers build safe homes. But the window of opportunity to do that is closing fast. Villagers must rebuild now and will rebuild the exact same housing that failed on such a wholesale level on April 25th. In our villages of Mankhu and Goganpani, 80-85% of the homes collapsed. As I said, we were lucky in that the homes were largely empty at the time. Next time, we may not have such fortune smile upon us.
We are making an URGENT appeal to get the money for life-saving gabion band technology in the hands of every homeowner in our villages right away. We have a wait-list of homeowners who are ready to rebuild with gabion bands right now, today.
On April 25th an earthquake hit Nepal. Our village, Mankhu, was severly damaged and up to 85% of the homes were destroyed in the initial quake with more damage taking place in the two large aftershocks. As a result all of the classrooms at Her Farm were turned into temporary housing for those in the village who had lost their homes.
We are happy to report that though the classrooms are still occupied by families who were displaced by the earthquakes, we have been able to restore our classes in the former dining room of our volunteer house at Her Farm. The monsoon season is underway at this time and it is impossible for people to rebuild at this time so they remain living in our classrooms.
In spite of some space constraints we've gotten our regular sessions back underway. The day begins with homework help, followed by English lessons. Computer lessons remain temporarily suspended until we can reoccupy the classrooms. Breakfast is served all the children and they wash, brush teeth and depart for their regular classes at the local school by 9:30am.